How to determine where you are today and where you want to go tomorrow.
In our multi-part Data Strategy blog series, we look at why developing your current state assessment is a critical starting point in your data strategy and why it gives you the opportunity to review where you are today, how to identify opportunities and find key pain points within your organisation in relation to your data strategy.
Why is a current state assessment important for your data strategy?
A current state assessment is the first step in developing your data strategy. It is undertaken at the start of the project so that you can identify opportunities and pain points within your organisation in relation to your data strategy. The following questions can be asked.
To develop a data strategy that is robust and can survive the test of time within an organisation, it is fundamental that these questions are answered prior to commencing work on your data strategy.
- How will your data strategy help you to achieve your business objectives?
- What are your business drivers?
- What are the opportunities your data strategy can help deliver?
- What are your current strengths and capabilities that can be built upon?
- What are your key pain points with data?
- What are the business impacts of the pain points?
- What are the key causes of the pain points?
- What are the priority areas to focus on?
Why it’s important to get a wide range of views
It is important that you have a wide selection of internal and external stakeholders involved with the development of your Current State Assessment. This is because they can bring a different viewpoint into the mix or may be able to identify an opportunity or pain point that you are unaware of.
Prior to the consultative period commencing, it is favourable that all stakeholders are on board and engaged with the process. But most importantly, they need to understand why it is being undertaken so they can provide the most valuable input.
What are the causes of the pain points and how will they impact your business?
As a result of your stakeholder engagement, you will have identified a series of opportunities and pain points relating to your current data, which in turn helps shape your data strategy. Next, it is important to determine what impact, if any, they currently have (or will have) in your organisation.
A simple way to assess this is to rank them on a scale of 1 to 10. For instance, you may have identified that your data quality is inadequate during your Current State Assessment. The next step is to identify what impact this is having on your organisation. It may be causing significant manual processing time to extract reports, and there may be issues with the validity of the data, which prevents your organisation from making informed decisions. This might be a 10/10 score because of the significant impact it has. Document every identified opportunity and pain point, giving each a score, then rank the scores from worst to best.
This will help you to identify where the critical issues are and what needs to be rectified immediately, the important issues (but not urgent) and the ‘nice to do’ projects that could be left for another time. For identified pain points, try and find out the root cause. It may be cultural, old legacy systems or wrong tools. Whatever the cause, it is important to know as this will be key to resolving the pain points.
How will these changes impact your organisation?
One of the many values we bring to our clients’ data strategy development is an objective viewpoint of the identified opportunities and pain points and their relationship with your business drivers. We do not have an emotional attachment to these and can support you to identify which ones are a priority and need your immediate focus.
Understanding your business drivers and what your organisation is trying to achieve is paramount to this exercise. Linking your business drivers to your Current State Assessment also helps determine priories and focus. A good question to keep asking is ‘why’. Why is impact X important to your business? For instance, why is data quality important to your business? Is it because it will allow you to make better-informed decisions in real-time, which will allow your workforce to focus on the key strategic priorities which will result in your organisation achieving its targets?
The key is to keep drilling down and asking ‘why’ until you are completely satisfied that you truly understand how this impacts your business drivers and what the proposed changes will deliver to your organisation.
You’ve got your current state assessment. What happens next?
Once you reach the conclusion of the development of your Current State Assessment, you should have answered and communicated all of the questions that were posed at the start of the process, identified and prioritised the opportunities and pain points, understood the causes of the pain points, and assessed how all of this is impacting your business. Now it’s time to build your actual Data Strategy.
Coming Up Next
Creating Your Data Strategy
In our next data strategy article, we will be looking at the step by step process you need to follow to build your data strategy. Check out the previous articles in our data strategy series here. If you would like assistance to develop your own data strategy in the meantime, contact us today for a no-obligation discussion.